As we approach the eve of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler is eerily reminiscent of the "calm before the storm." Whistler has been waiting since the 60's to host these Olympic games and the time has finally arrived to welcome the world.
Residents have had to endure jets flying overhead, military helicopters circling day and night, and police and army personnel on every street corner, like a scene out of Red Dawn. If all the brass on the ground wasn't enough, Whistler also has a high-tech surveillance blimp taking photos of Whistler Village, despite assurances from the military that the blimp would not be used in populated areas.
Every where you look, there are hundreds of Olympic volunteers sporting their ubiquitous turquoise uniforms and toques, conjuring up images of smurfs or the Na'vi's - the fictional characters in Avatar. For long-time residents, it's a bit strange to have all these people running our town when they've only just arrived from elsewhere.
A few weeks ago, we noticed that strange black tents had popped up on all main intersections of the Sea to Sky Highway. I consulted my 2010 Games Planner (our resident guide to the Games), but there was no mention of these tents or their use. After some investigation, we learned that the tents were there for the exclusive use of the RCMP to use for taking notes, observing passer-bys or consuming hot beverages. Locals have affectionaltely nicknamed these dwellings, PIGLOOS.
Despite the Olympic Aversion Effect, Intrawest officials are reassuring tourists that Whistler is open for business during the Olympics. Personally, visiting a place that resembles the heavily fortified areas of the Middle East, is not my idea of a good time.
Until now, Whistler has remained free of the bad luck that has plagued the spring-like conditions at Cypress Mountain in Vancouver. But in the past two days, Whistler's ski hills have been shrouded in fog and rain, possibly jeopardizing the much anticipated men's downhill race scheduled for this Saturday and Canada's first chance at winning its first ever gold medal on home soil.
Let the Games begin!
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